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Assessing Attitude to Learning in Secondary School

Samuel Gipson
Samuel Gipson (10 posts) Head of Secondary View Profile

In Virtual School now, more than ever, it is imperative that our approach to assessment is meaningful and supports students in developing not only academically, but socially and emotionally. 

At NAIS Manila we are always aiming to improve our practice and develop opportunities for students to reflect on their learning and take it to the next level. Mr. Barry Briody, our wonderful new Head of Maths, has also taken on the role of Assessment & Data Coordinator for the Secondary School and has been working hard on evolving and enhancing our approach to assessment.

Below Mr. Briody explains our new and improved method of assessing our student's attitude to learning and the benefits of this approach."

 - Sam Gipson, Head of Secondary


 

atl page link image

As I reflect on the last term, I am very grateful for the warm welcome that I have received by both staff and pupils at NAIS Manila. The transition from working in Qatar for eight years to a new school with different routines has been made much easier by not only the support I have received from my fellow teachers, but thanks to the amazing inclusive approach to learning and school environment I am so thankful to be a part of.

I am deeply passionate about reducing the barriers to learning that prevent students from reaching their full potential. As the new Assessment & Data Coordinator, it is my responsibility to implement whole school interventions to support students in making the academic progress they are capable of and deserve in each of their subjects.

Often, when students are struggling in a particular subject, the pathway to improvement is framed in schools as simply ‘work harder’. However, this is far too vague and does not take into account the myriad of other factors that contribute to students not progressing at their expected rate.  To improve, students need to focus less on working harder and more on working smarter. More specifically, the must focus on reframing their Attitude to Learning (ATL).

 

At NAIS Manila we have developed an articulated criterion for measuring and subsequently grading ATL.

atl imageATL grades while awarded as a number, are so much more meaningful than just that. All assessments and all assessment grades must have a purpose and enhance learning. The aim of ATL grades is to aid students in understanding the behaviours that underpin being an engaged, ambitious, and successful learner.

 

In the last week of this half-term, all students were provided ATL reflection tables for each subject and were guided through a reflection process, considering their attitude to learning in each subject, identifying behaviours that are strengths and those they need to develop. This reflective process culminated in students writing a short reflection piece detailing their targets for the coming half-term as well as making a prediction of what their ATL for each subject will be. 

The data gathered from this process will be analyzed by teachers to detect trends and student perceptions and will inform whole school initiatives to improve pupils’ attitudes to learning and drive forward academic, social, and emotional progress. It is vital students have a positive and supportive attitude to learning first, to ensure that impactful and rapid learning can take place.

Many students, especially in Secondary School, struggle with the ‘fear of failure’. They become focused on the grade, rather than the feedback they receive. A simple number of letters is indicative of performance at one point in time and while useful for tracking progress, alone it will help not students develop and improve their practice. 

Fixation simply on snapshot in time grades ingrains negative learning habits, preventing children from being creative in their approach and venturing outside their comfort zones. It does not allow students to focus on strengths and identify weaknesses.

 

At NAIS Manila, we want to change the perception of failure and for students to see failure as an opportunity to extend their thoughts and deepen their understanding.  We want students to experience setbacks in a safe and positive learning environment which is conducive to learning.

The first official exams for the majority of students are not until Year 11, and as long as students have an ambitious or engaged attitude to learning, and are acting upon feedback, all other exams should be viewed as opportunities to learn in the pursuit of achieving their full potential. Our inclusive approach is about developing learning behaviours and setting students up for success by ensuring the foundations for success are strong.

I look forward to comparing the results of the second ATL report at the end of term one and celebrating the strides in progress the students will undoubtedly make.

Authored by:

barry rgb
Head of Mathematics
Assessment and Intervention Coordinator
Saxons House Tutor

If you wish to learn more about our Secondary School Assessments, you may speak with our Admissions Team online by clicking the link below.

NAIS Manila Virtual Discovery Meeting

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